Sydney Cover Passenger Terminal - Extendible Gangways | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Sydney Cover Passenger Terminal - Extendible Gangways

Item details

Name of item: Sydney Cover Passenger Terminal - Extendible Gangways
Other name/s: Overeseas Passenger Terminal (Opt)
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Water
Category: Other - Transport - Water
Primary address: Western side Circular Quay, Sydney, NSW 2000
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Western side Circular QuaySydneySydney  Primary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Sydney Ports CorporationState Government 

Statement of significance:

Based on GML (1999) and Conybeare Morrison (2005)
The Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal is a significant building on the shores of Sydney Harbour.The site is important for its ongoing historical use as a commercial and passenger shipping facility and its early role as a public gateway to the city.
The building displays a twentieth century approach to adaptive re-use in response to changing community needs and in its fabric, illustrates layers of its own history and use.
The original building constructed in 1958-60 has historical associations with the changing needs of international travel. As the first point of entry for many immigrants during the post World War II period in Australia, the builidng also possesses social value. The architecture of the building is representative of the utilitarian approach to terminal design at the time, with its Functionalist character influenced by international trends.
The 1988 modifications to the building by Lawrence Nield form part of the Bicentennial works that focussed on improving the urban design character of Sydney Cove. The building responded to a desire for increased public access to the foreshore and an enhanced interrelationship with open spaces including First Fleet Park and Campbells Cove Plaza. The architecture is of aesthetic significance for its successful adaptive reuse and reductionalist approach and the reinterpretation of the robust steel portal frame structure. With its maritime imagery and use of strong visual devices, including the northern tower, the building is of landmark value from Sydney Harbour. (GML 1999)
The 1999-2001 works designed by Bligh Voller Nield Architects in association with Lindssay and Kerry Clare, NSW Government Architects Office, further enhanced the southern fa├žade, public access and the terminal facilities ( Connybeare Morriosn Pty Ltd 2005:24)
The site has archaeological potential arising from the likely subsurface presence of remains of early wharfage, the nineteenth century seawall and original shoreline deposits. The building is also important for its ability to demonstrate an early use of concrete caisson technology as foreshore reinforcement. (GML 1999)
Date significance updated: 13 Dec 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Construction years: 1958-1961
Physical description: The two extant gantries and gangways used to load passnegers on and off ships are attached to the Arrival Hall and Customs gallery (Level 3). Each gangway is supported by a 1958-1960 black two pronged steel gantry that is propelled on two wheels along a north-south single track extending almost the length of the building. The northern gantry (Gantry No3) and the sourthern Gantry (Gantry No1) are remnants of the original five gantires that served ships from 1960-1988. The original wooden buffers and the hydraulic control cabinets are located to the north of each gantry. The extendable gangways have a welded steel floor and 2001 aluminium framework covered in a white all weather PVC fabric.
Date condition updated:06 Dec 06


Historical notes: [Information in this section is extracted from Connybeare Morriosn Int. 2005 which in turn is heavily base don Godden MacKay Logan 1999].
Work on the Overeseas Passenger terminal (at its curent location at Circular Quay- see Connybeare morrison International Pty Ltd 2005 for history of passenger terminals pre current one) began in 1958. It opened in 1960. The terminal was designed for the regular passneger services between Australia and Europe to cater for the large numbers of European immigrants and their luggage. The OPT was talior made for for the 'Oriana' and 'Canberra'. Both of these ships were built especially for the England to Australia run and were capable of carrying 2000 passengers each. On her maiden voyage the 'Oriana' became the fisrst ship to use the terminal in September 1960.
Rectangular in plan, the buidling comprised ground, mezzanine, first and second floor with a passenger's gallery and visitors balcony along the east elevation. Ion the west , the terminal was serviced by vehicular traffic bridges allowing pick up and drop off of passengers at the first floor level. The exteror was clad susing precast panels and the western wall facing Hickson Road at the Custonms hall level use brightly coloured windows as a decorative treament. ( See Connybeare Morrison Internation 2005:16 for full building description).

The five extendable gangaways were cionnecetd to the Passengers gallery which was located along the full length of the upper floor and aorund thpart of the nortehrn end.

By the 1980s the price of air travel had dropped to a point were it became an affordable option for the majority of traveller and sea travel declined.

In 1983 a competition was held to gather suggestions for the reuse of the terminal. In 1985-7 a design by Lawrence Nield and Partenrs was adiopted for the OPT. The desigen received a RAIA merit award in the 1988 Architecture awards in Public and Commercial Buidlings Category.
A further remodelling was commissioned in the lead up to the 2000 Olympics.
The Mobile Passenger Gangways including gantries were in stalled as part of the originla construction and completed on 2nd February 1961. These connected the Arrivals Hall gallery on Level 3 to the ships. They were specifally designed for the buidling by McNamee Industrries and were assembled on site during the erection fo the budiling. They each weighed 33,340lbs. They are the only examples of this style of gangway and gantry in Australia.

Each had a telescopic steel gangaway of stressed aluminium sheeting over an aluminium framework. The ooeprtaion of elevating and extending or retreacting tehse gangways was by hydrualic power. Provision was made for the rise and fall of the ship and for ranging when the h=gangways are supported by the ship. When not in use the gangways were lowered and stowed clear of the shipping clearance lines.
With the introcdtution fo cheap airtravel and the subsequent decline in sea travel the terminal beacme underuitilised. During the 1988 refurbishment 2 of the ganways were removed leaving only 3 remaining.. The two ganways which were removed were relocated to Wharves at Pyrmont 13 and darling Harbour 10 and then darling Harbour 8 where one remains in infrequent use today.

Two gangways remain on site at the OPT: gantry No1 on the south and Gantry No 3 on the North (Connybeare Morrison op cit. Does not say what happened to the 5th gangway) both underwent major refurbishments as part of the 1999-2001 works. This included the upgrading of the hydraulics, replacement of the bridge struture with white PVC on an aluminum frame. The gantry legs and steel track are original.

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The two OPT extendible gangways and hydaulic gantries demonstrate the ongoing adaptation required to accommodate technological changes in the shipping industry. They contribute to the layers of history associated with the site and are an integral part of the significant Overseas Passenger Terminals' historical use as a commercial and passenger shipping facility. They are of moderate historic signifcaince as the utilitarian structures that have since 1960 supported the prinmarty role of the Overseas Passneger Terminal. (Conybeare Morrison International Pty Ltd 2005:25)
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Although the indsutrial nature of the gantries contributes to the aesthetic significance of the building, the overall form and covering to the extendible gangways detracts from the artictic expression of the current Overseas Passenger Terminal design. (Conybeare Morrison International Pty Ltd 2005:25)
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
As part of the building that was the first point of entry to Australia for post 1960 immigrrants and tourists on liners and cruise ships, the gantries and gangways have moderate social value. (Conybeare Morrison International Pty Ltd 2005:25).
SHR Criteria f)
As the gantries and extendible gangways were specifically designed by McNamee Industries for the building they are unique examples of this style of equipment. (Conybeare Morrison International Pty Ltd 2005:25)
Integrity/Intactness: reduced to 1/3 of original size. One of the extendible gangways is proposed to be conserved.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage registerSydney ports Corporation4560045   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal - Heritage Impact Statement1999 Godden Mackay Logan  Yes
Sydney Cove Passenger terminal Extendible Gangways: Heritage Impact Statement2005 Conybeare Morrison  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnon1964Passenger Terminals In the Port of Sydney
WrittenJBA & Berkhout (Appendix K by GML)1999Sydney Cove Passenger Terminal Upgrade, Development Application Statement of Environmental Effects to Minister of Urban Affairs and Planning
WrittenNimmo, A.2003redeveloping Circular Quay in 'Architecture Australia'.

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4560045

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